Price paid: £ 1779
Purchased from: Eddie's Guitars, St. Louis
Sound — 9
I play a wide range of styles ranging from Jazz and Blues all the way to Metal. I love to play music from Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple aswell as Black Sabbath, Randy-era Ozzy and Van Halen. I also enjoy playing music from bands/artist such as Free, Cream and Santana. I play in a Big Band every week and find the guitar can produce the sound required in all of these situations. Currently I am using a Line 6 Spider 3 30w combo, which I will admit, is very difficult to coax a nice tone from and can be frustrating to use. I noticed a very big increase in quality of sound when I upgraded from this guitar than I had experienced before when using my old guitar (Epiphone G-400). I'm not using any effects currently. I plan to upgrade to a much better amplifier in the near future, looking at a 100w Tube Head such as the Marshall Vintage Modern or the Orange Rockerverb Mk.II. There is no noise such as humming or squeal produced by the guitar so therefore I haven't had any problems when playing live. The guitar produces some amazing tones, with the Bridge pick-up being sharp and powerful (while not becoming thin) like Gary Moore on "Oh Pretty Woman" while the neck pick-up produce creamy, smooth warm tones. The guitar sounds amazing clean and allows chords to ring out richly. The guitar can make a really wide range of sounds, allowing me to cover tones similar to Ritchie Blackmore's (despite his use of a Strat) all the way through to Carlos Santana's. Obviously, it cannot make the same twang of a single-coil Strat or Tele but it can get close. I would like it if the guitar's tone and volume controls were slightly more responsive but the guitar is still very impressive.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, I feel the guitar suits my style of playing perfectly. I spent hours researching various guitar and have been a member of a Les Paul forum for over two years. I have been playing for slightly over three years and considering myself to be around intermediate level or a bit above. I can hold my own when jamming with friends and can out play people I know who have been playing for twice as long so I know what I'm talking about, especially after over two years of learning about Les Pauls everyday! I already knew every detail about this guitar before buying and had played two of the exact model when in Japan. So I was fine when it arrived and was not surprised by any things that I wasn't aware of. If it were stolen then I would get my insurance to replace it and then hunt down the thief and kill him/her and take this one back. I would replace it with the same model. I would definitely make sure not to lose it and when out of the house I do not take my eyes off it, unless it's in a secure place. I love pretty much everything about it and hate nothing. It's my dream guitar and suits everything I like in guitars. I have to admit my favourite thing about it is the tone it can get and it's feel. I've only ever found the same feel and tone in a couple of guitars, both of which were also CS Gibson Les Pauls! I have compared this model to pretty much every other CS Gibson that had humbuckers, aswell as some USA models. I have played a couple of R9's, a couple of R8's, about 5 R7's (all of which were superb) and a normal Les Paul Custom. I have also played a few 08 Standards and Traditionals to make sure I knew what I wanted. I also compared it to a Les Paul Axcess, which was a very nice guitar. The only thing I wish this guitar had that it currently doesn't is strap-locks. I will be adding them shortly so don't have to worry. After that I suppose I might change the pots and caps to a RS kit. The guitar is an amazing guitar and well worth the money!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I played this guitar live, with a big band, within a week of receiving it and it was brilliant. The hardware (bridge, knobs etc.) seems like it will all withstand years of use and live shows (I am not rough with my instruments). I will definitely need to upgrade the strap buttons as depending on the strap, the guitar can try to Escape from me and come off the strap. Fortunately, I am always careful when playing and the guitar ha never dropped more than a couple of inches. I will probably be adding Dunlop's or Schaller's very soon. I would gig this without a backup. The guitar is consistently in tune and will definitely be fine to play. I would be worried about the headstock being broken if I played without strap-locks on but I am sure that while I am careful it will be fine until I get round to it. The finish is very good and will last a long time. The guitar has a nitro finish, as usual on Gibson and PRS guitars, and is not plasticky like on many poly finished guitars. It will not crack either due to the current Gibson formula (although I would actually like this to happen with time).
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was shipped to me from Eddie's Guitars in St. Louis. Before shipping their guitar tech set the guitar up with 10s and made sure all the intonation and action was set-up well. I received the guitar and it was set-up perfectly for me. The action was very low, allowing me to make runs that I had struggled with on my Epiphone, easily. Bends were as easy as playing normal notes and it was nice to be able to add vibrato to them as I played. I could play some of Randy Rhoads' runs from many of his solos much easier, due to the low action. The neck pick-up was set perfectly for me when it arrived and got me perfect sounds for chords as I play clean quite often. It also gave me a very creamy tone when using an overdriven amp similar to that of Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top or Paul Kossoff of Free. The Bridge pick-up was too far from the strings for me so I adjusted the height using the screws next to it and the sound improved immediately, allowing the guitar to sing and really add some bite to solos and rhythms. I could not find a single problem with any of the hardware on the guitar. The knobs were all attached to the pots very well, the pick-guard had been attached perfectly, the tail-piece and Bridge where all fine as was the nut. The grovers hold the guitar's tuning well and are easy to tune back-up on the occasion that the guitar has gone slightly out. The guitar contained no flaws. All the frets were all cut and leveled perfectly and were very smooth to play.
Features — 10
The guitar was made in 2011 in Gibson's Custom Shop in Nashville, TN. The guitar has 22 frets and a bound ebony fretboard. It also has the block inlays as usual for a Les Paul Custom. The neck is rounded, quite thick and very comfortable to play. The headstock features the split-diamond inlay with the multi-ply binding as normal. The body is a solid mahogany back (no chambering OR weight relief, completely solid) with a solid maple top. The neck is made out of one piece of mahogany also. The guitar is a non-transparent ebony colour and is bound on both the top and back with the multi-ply binding, as usual on a Les Paul Custom. The finish is nitrocellulose lacquer (nitro) as is normal found on Gibson instruments. The guitar has a tune-o-matic Bridge and stop tail bridge, both of which are nickel. The Bridge is not the Standard Nashville Bridge found on USA Les Pauls but the wireless abr-1 Bridge commonly found on the historic models The guitar has two pick-ups, neck and bridge, both of which are Gibson's 57 Classics. The guitar has a volume and tone control for each pick-up, totaling four control knobs. The is a 3-way switch, as normal, for switching between pick-ups. The tuners are non-locking Grover kidney style. The nut is the 6/6 Nylon as found on normal re-issues. The guitar is from the historic range of Gibson's CS (guitars such as the 59 and 57 re-issues) and is a VOS model. The guitar included a certificate of authenticity (COA) which came in the form of a black booklet and looks very nice. It also came with the Gibson CS hardshell case which is very sturdy and looks very impressive, it is also lockable. I am confident that this will protect the guitar. The handle is soft and made of leather making it easy to carry. Keys for the case were included as was a allen key for adjusting the truss-rod.